howtoactfereldan: (the one who repents)
Cullen ([personal profile] howtoactfereldan) wrote2015-11-21 09:31 pm

(no subject)

It begins with a letter.

So chances are good that if I -- she -- Ysalwen, you know -- is still alive, she's getting along fine, she'd said.

What Cullen is about to do -- he knows it's wrong. It's supposed to be wrong, anyhow. His training says it's wrong. But Cullen isn't convinced of that, not at all. Not any more.

The letter he sends care of the Knight-Commander at the Ferelden Circle says that there are rumors of elven escapees from Kinloch living in the Free Marches, rumors that these same elven escapees assisted the apostate Anders -- himself a former resident of the Ferelden Circle -- in blowing up the Kirkwall Chantry and its Grand Cleric, and could the Knight-Commander consider releasing the phylacteries of all escaped elven apostates so that Kirkwall's templars can pursue justice?

The name at the bottom of this letter is not Cullen's, but one of his Knight-Lieutenants.

If he gets caught, Cullen reflects as he watches the ship carrying his letter leave the Kirkwall harbor, and they remove him from duty, expel him from the Order -- because that's the risk he's running -- he is pretty sure he will be grateful for the rest between the day he walks out and the day he gives in to the lyrium withdrawal.

***


Cullen does not get caught.

The response from Ferelden is that they have five phylacteries left that fit this description, and as they have a knight transferring to Ostwick, perhaps Kirkwall could send a messenger there to retrieve them?

Cullen writes back that this is acceptable.

Cullen does not write back that it's pretty great that the Spire is bolstering the Order's power in Ostwick rather than helping out in Kirkwall.

But it does contribute to what happens then: with each day that passes, Cullen feels less and less conflicted over what he's about to do.

***


The handoff in Ostwick occurs quietly, with no fuss: the transferee isn't someone he knew, and Cullen doesn't ask about those he did know.

(Not like there are many of them left, anyway, after Uldred's rebellion.)

He declines the offer to stay the night at the barracks, and only when he cannot see Ostwick's walls any longer does Cullen halt his horse, pull out the small, lacquered box, and -- with trepidation and fear, not hope -- opens the lid.

The second vial from the left is the one labeled Ysalwen Surana.

When Cullen closes his hand around it, and, focusing inward, reaches --

-- the blood within flares to life, bright red, glowing.

"She's close," Cullen says, barely audible. "She's here."

The horse snorts, stamps a hoof.

***


Four phylacteries are in the box that gets locked up with the others of the Kirkwall Circle.

Number five stays on Cullen at all times.

***


He contemplates destroying it. That would take care of the problem.

So, he thinks, would taking it to Milliways; even if Warden-Commander Surana refused it (as he suspects she might), it would be a good place to hide it.

When Cullen eventually decides that the plan of finding her -- Enchanter Surana -- should go forward, he tells himself that it's because she deserves to know that it still exists, and that she can destroy it herself, so that its shadow might not hang over her for the rest of her days.

And that's part of it. But only part.

***


Aveline tells him that yes, they can get along without him for two weeks; no, it's not ideal, but urgent business in Tantervale is urgent business in Tantervale.

Cullen rides out from Kirkwall at dawn one morning, headed west.

When he's safe across the Vimmark Mountains, when he arrives in Wildervale, he slips five sovereigns to the innkeeper, tells him that if she keeps his armor hidden and safe, and her mouth shut, there will be five more upon his return, and turns west again, toward the Planasene Forest.

He's still armored, but there is no Sword of Mercy on his breastplate. The only options available to him in shields were unacceptable, but he knows that civilians carrying Templar shields isn't really that remarkable. Especially when they're so clearly used.

When he enters the forest, his helm comes off. He's not entirely sure why... but he hasn't done very well for himself ignoring instinct thus far.

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